Ayrton (NZ) might have missed a place in Saturday's Group 1 Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes, but connections still saw enough from the gelding to commit to a trip to Perth for The Pinnacles. The Mick Price and Michael Kent Jnr-trained six-year-old will be part of the eastern-states travelling party that will fly out from Sydney on Monday night.
Ayrton will be on the plane to Perth to contest the $1.5 million Damien Oliver Gold Rush; picture Racing Photos
Saturday's 1400-metre Group 1 was Ayrton's third run for the campaign and although forced to settle for sixth placing, beaten just over 3-1/4 lengths, the son of Iffraaj was cut out at a vital stage in the straight.
"We thought he was going well, but you still want to see a good performance because it's a long way to go to Perth," Rob Norton from Roll The Dice, which races Ayrton, said.
"He's pulled up well from Saturday. If he ran well and he pulled up well he was always going to go."
While there are Group 1 races across the next three weekends at Ascot, Norton said the $1.5 million Group 3 Damien Oliver Gold Rush (1400m) on December 16 was Ayrton's target race.
The Sir Rupert Clarke Stakes came after an unlucky seventh in the Group 2 The Damien Oliver at Flemington on Derby Day, which followed a strong first-up win in the Listed Weekend Hussler Stakes at Caulfield, and Norton said Ayrton's revitalisation had coincided with being trained for 1400m races.
"Mick's probably just training him more to be a seven-furlong fresh horse," he said. "The last couple of campaigns we've tried to get him up in trip. Last year he ran in the Five Diamonds (1800m) and the previous season there was the ill-fated campaign to Queensland, but now we're just training him to be a seven furlong horse."
While Ayrton won't be seen for almost four weeks, Roll The Dice's attention at this Saturday's Cranbourne Cup meeting will centre around Peace Treaty, who resumes in the 1200-metre event for three-year-olds.
The National Defense filly's only start resulted in a 4-1/2-length Heavy-track win at Ballarat in May and Norton is excited to see what the Anthony and Sam Freedman-trained filly can do on firmer surface this weekend.
"That's the perfect kick-off and if she can run as well as she did on debut on Good ground, then she might be a nice horse," he said.
Peace Treaty's preparations for her return have included two jump-outs; an 800m Mornington win and a third placing at Balnarring over 1000m.